Office of the Honorable David S. Nelson Professional Chair


Our mission is to support the work of Community Based Programs all over the nation, work with community partners in the community and provide consultations to programs in need.

The Nelson Chair Office aims to support the work of the exceptional community leaders and programs providing services to underserved populations and to provide training to the future educators and academics.  We aim to create a supportive network of exceptional community-based programs, expert consultants, and academics who have a shared commitment to valuable work in the community. Our mission aims to define best practices in addressing the multiple needs of inner-city youth and their parents. 

Nelson Chair Roundtable

The Nelson Chair Roundtable was established to provide a forum for community program leaders to exchange ideas about strategies, interventions, best practices, and program effectiveness. The Roundtable strives to strengthen ties between programs by facilitating a network. In addition, it is focused on encouraging programs to revisit their mission and goals and increase capacity for evaluation and monitoring effectiveness. Past Roundtables have addressed topics such as program development and sustainability, leadership capacity building, staff development, funding acquisition, and evaluation techniques.

The key objectives for the Nelson Chair Roundtable are to:

  • Reduce organizations working in isolation
  • Revisit missions to align with coalition building
  • Increase capacity for evaluation and monitoring impact
  • Build upon organizational strengths
  • Promote strategies for sustainability
  • Promote mentorship amongst programs


The Honorable David S. Nelson Professional Chair was created in 1995 in the honor of Judge David S. Nelson for an African-American professor who “reflects the educational aspirations and human qualities” of Judge Nelson, who graduated from Boston College in 1957, from Boston College Law School in 1960, and served on the Board of Trustees for five terms.

Dr. Anderson J. Franklin, Director

Dr. Anderson J. Franklin has held the position since 2007. Dr. Franklin's interests focus on afterschool educational activities, and studying resilience and psychological well-being in African Americans.  His research focuses on developing his theory of the invisibility syndrome in Black males.  Dr. Franklin has worked with numerous agencies and groups on intervention programs with Black males, families and community initiatives. He lectures and consults with a variety of domestic and international organizations on diversity issues. He is co-author with Dr. Nancy Boyd-Franklin of Boys Into Men: Raising our African American Teenage Sons, published by Dutton/Plume. His last book is From Brotherhood to Manhood: How Black Men Rescue Their Relationships and Dreams From the Invisibility Syndrome by John Wiley & Sons, which was placed on Essence magazine best sellers list. 

Read more about Dr. Franklin



David S. Nelson

Honorable David S. Nelson

David S. Nelson was born in 1933 in Roxbury, Massachusetts, to parents who were Jamaican natives. He received his B.S. from Boston College in 1957 and graduated from Boston College School of Law in 1960. Judge Nelson began his professional career with the Boston law firm of Crane, Inker and Oteri, where he worked until 1973. From 1968 to 1969, Judge Nelson served as a United States Commissioner for the United States District Court, District of Massachusetts. In 1971, Judge Nelson became the first African-American to serve as an Assistant Attorney General for the State of Massachusetts, as Chief of the Consumer Protection Division.

In 1973, he was appointed Justice of the Superior Court of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. Judge Nelson received the “Judge of the Year Award” from the Massachusetts Academy of Trial Attorneys in 1977. On March 23, 1979, President Jimmy Carter appointed Judge Nelson as a judge to the United States District Court for the District of Massachusetts, making him the first African- American to serve in this role. Judge Nelson was active in the community and at Boston College, where he served on the Board of Trustees for five terms and was its chairman from 1984–1987. In 1979, he received an honorary Doctor of Laws Degree from BC and served as the commencement speaker. In 1995, the University established the Honorable David S. Nelson Professional Chair, to be held by an African-American professor who reflects the “educational aspirations and human qualities,” which were prominent in Judge Nelson’s career and his civic involvement. Judge Nelson retired from the federal bench in 1995 and died on October 21, 1998.